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Coast News Year In Review

Coast News: 2015 Year In Review

After public debate, the Arroyo Grande City Council voted 3 to 2 in favor of a moment of reflection in place of prayer before council meetings. Councilmembers Barbara Harmon and Tim Brown dissented.

In early December, the council discussed ending the longstanding practice of beginning meetings with a prayer. The issue followed the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Town of Greece v. Galloway case emphasizing the need to open invocations to all those interested in participating, including atheist groups.

City leaders and community members gathered to dedicate completion of the first step in creating a new park that has been three decades in the making.

The late Robert and Lavon Cleaver deeded the 4,700 sq. ft. property to what was then Grover City in 1984 with the stipulation that it become a public park and recreation facility. Failing that, the land would be turned over to the Veterans of Foreign Wars National Home.

Heated meetings have become a familiar setting in Arroyo Grande City Council Chambers. The majority of the public who spoke during a recent special meeting to determine whether or not to negotiate a settlement with former city manager Steve Adams expressed confusion over the issue.

The lack of clarity surrounded whether Adams resigned following an investigation of questionable conduct with a subordinate in July of last year or whether he was fired. The later would leave taxpayers left footing the bill. Adams received a payout that came to  $71,000 for about four months of pay with benefits. He had asked for  $107,000 based on his annual salary of $157,294 plus benefits.

The Grover Beach City Council voted unanimously to jump on board with plans to form a countywide tourism district. The district’s intention is to bring in more people who stay longer periods of time thereby increasing revenue directly to establishments as well as to individual cities through sales tax.

CN Cover lupinesPlans to create a thriving watershed in Pismo Creek are swimming along. Cleaner water, improved native habitat and increased populations of steelhead trout are all part of the Pismo Creek Estuary Restoration Plan.

Central Coast Salmon Enhancement (CCSE) is actively working in multiple areas to characterize and restore Pismo Creek predominantly through changes in water flow and determining necessary requirements to support native Steelhead trout in a study funded by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife Fisheries Restoration Grant Program.

After six hours of an emotionally charged meeting, the California Coastal Commission agreed to get involved with what has been a dust storm of differing opinions surrounding the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area (ODSVRA).

The Coastal Commission was asked to jump into the fray after 30 years of non-compliance with the park’s Coastal Development Permit (CDP) requirements to finalize a Habitat Conservation Plan. The state environmental watchdog group is hoping to strike a balance between facilitating vehicular recreation and protecting dune and related coastal resources. The last hearing on the issue was in 2007.

The South County’s only hands-on, science and technology children’s museum held a soft re-opening on Sunday. The Exploration Station in Grover Beach opened its doors after a seven-month hiatus.

The nonprofit’s board of directors opted to close the Exploration Station last July to reorganize the administrative side of the organization.

A strike remains a possibility for teachers in the Lucia Mar Unified District. Contract negotiations between the union and the district IMG_4446remain at an impasse following a fact-finding hearing held on Feb. 27.

Teachers have been without a contract since June 2014. Through the state’s Local Control Funding formula, the district has received about 10 percent more funding than it did last school year.

The union is asking to see a similar increase for teachers and wants a 10 percent bump in pay, the district has offered 2 percent.

Not too long ago, parts of the Five Cites were covered in hail followed by a downpour of rain, but a few minutes here and there isn’t enough to reverse a multiple year drought that has impacted the entire state.

Arroyo Grande and Pismo Beach have joined forces to create ThinkH20, a campaign aimed at awareness and action towards long-term water conservation habits.
The message on the website www.thinkh2onow.com message is crystal clear. “Drought or no drought, water consumption can no longer be taken for granted. Think H2O wants to help you think differently about the way you use water. Start conserving water today and you can help prevent drastic water restrictions in the future.”

A large open space with a panoramic, bluff top view of the ocean, makes Dinosaur Caves Park an ideal venue for some of the city’s larger events, but parking that doesn’t infringe on neighboring residents has been a problem.

Following discussion, the Pismo Beach City Council did not reach a decision about staff recommended parking solutions at the popular park.

The primary election for 3rd District Supervisor is more than a year away, but the race is already heating up. Former Grover Beach mayor Debbie Peterson and San Luis Obispo City Councilman Dan Carpenter both announced they will run for the seat Adam Hill has held since 2009.

Battle weary Union soldiers from the 36th Ohio Infantry 2nd Brigade Kanawha Division recently set up camp in Pismo Beach to hear President Abraham Lincoln give his famous Gettysburg Address.

The soldiers were part of the 8th grade social studies class at Judkins Middle School that took part in the 10th Civil War Reenactment.

The lesson plan included presentations by visiting historians who talked about daily camp life for a solider, slavery, period women’s fashion, and abolitionism as well as a black smith who shoed a horse. The experience allowed students to explore the past outside of the classroom.

The dispute between the district and teachers in the Lucia Mar Unified School District remain in a wait and see holding pattern.

Educators in the Lucia Mar Unified Teachers Association voted overwhelmingly to call a strike if the district didn’t budge on its pay raise offer of 2 percent.
The vote came the day after the union and the district failed to reach an agreement following a second mediation meeting.

The California Appellate Court in Ventura last week ruled that the San Luis Obispo County Air Pollution Control District’s so-called Dust Rule was beyond the organization’s authority to regulate.

Rule 1001, adopted in 2011, required State Parks, which operates state vehicle recreation area (SVRA) in the Oceano Dunes, take responsibility for monitoring and reducing windblown particulate dust that exceeds state air quality standards that makes its way from the off-highway riding area to the Nipomo Mesa.

Drivers in Grover Beach can look forward to a smoother ride on the first of many streets slated for repair after years of traveling on roads filled with potholes and deteriorating pavement. The Grover Beach City Council unanimously approved a list of street repairs on portions of roads throughout the city that has 10 million square-feet of asphalt.

Hundreds of thousands of people flock to Pismo Beach every year and the city council would like to see the vacation destination attract even more people, but parking congestion is an ongoing problem.

The council unanimously gave the green light to enter into a contract with Walker Parking Consultants to generate ideas to meet the swelling parking demand. The consulting firm will develop the Downtown Parking Enhancements Plan at the cost of $75,000.

Lucia Mar teachers will vote this week whether or not to accept a contract agreement forged between their union and the district.

Following months of contention and a threatened strike, the Lucia Mar Unified Teachers Association and the district have reached a tentative contract agreement.

Sheriff’s investigators on Monday arrested an Arroyo Grande realtor on suspicion of child molestation.

Lawrence “Lenny” Lucien Jones, 63, was taken into custody on April 13, according to a Sheriff’s Department news release, following an investigation into an alleged child molestation that reportedly took place March 13.

On March 34, the Sheriff’s Office received information that two female juveniles under the age of 14 had been sexually molested while attending a birthday party at the suspect’s home.

The third phase of improvements for West Grand Avenue in Grover Beach are underway. This state and federally funded project is located on West Grand Avenue adjacent to the Pismo State Beach and west of Highway 1.

Improvements will consist of a multi- use path, reconfiguration of the travel lanes, new curb and gutter, crosswalks with decorative paving, lighting, installation of native dune landscaping, and a decomposed granite path that will assist pedestrians and equestrians with access to the Grand Dune Trail located to the south of West Grand Avenue.

The County Board of Supervisors awarded a contract for the Tar Spring Creek Bridge on Branch Mill Road in rural Arroyo Grande. The estimated total cost for entire project is $3,864,198.

The construction contract provides for the replacement of the existing bridge located approximately 1,200 feet southwest of Huasna Road. The bridge was built in 1949 and was determined by the State of California, Department of Transportation (Caltrans) to be structurally deficient and eligible for funding authorized by the Federal Highway Administration for bridge replacement. The structure had been incurring significant on-going maintenance expenses.

Three high school students are working on a project with a messaged that hundreds of people will see daily for decades to come.

Last fall, the 5 Cities Diversity Coalition issued a call for artists from area high schools to create a project that furthers tolerance and acceptance of all people.
The Coalition was formed in 2011 after a cross was burned in a vacant lot next to the home of a mixed-race family on South Elm Street. Their mission is to promote human understanding of the intersections of gender, ethnicity, race, sexual orientation, and age.

Arroyo Grande High School junior Zoe Newcomb and seniors Gabriella Santiago and Cassie Travis are the remaining student artist still involved in the project out of an original group of 19.

After seven years at the helm of the Lucia Mar Unified School District, Superintendent Jim Hogeboom plans to move to a school district in Northern California.

In a letter emailed to all Lucia Mar staff, Hogeboom said he has been selected as the finalist for the superintendent opening in the Novato Unified School District in Marin.

The statewide water crisis and the economy were at the forefront of a presentation by California State Senator William Monning (Dist. 17) at a chamber luncheon held at the South County Regional Center.

California is in the fourth year of a drought and water supplies are dwindling as lakes and rivers dry up. Governor Jerry Brown recently introduced historic and mandatory water conservation efforts that ask Californians to reduce their water use by 25 percent.

Speaking to about 75 people, Monning encouraged water conservation measures be taken by everyone to cut down on daily water use.

A longstanding annual event held at the Chapman Estate in Shell Beach will continue as requested at the bluff-top property. The Pismo Beach City Council denied an appeal thereby allowing the Afternoon of Epicurean Delights fundraiser to continue at more than double the amount of originally approved ticket sales.

In March of this year, the planning commission held a public hearing and approved the Chapman Estate Conditional Use Permit. The CUP amendment included a revision to the cap on participants in the CPVOL_031415-187annual CAPSLO fundraiser, raising it from 300 to 600 people. That included 450 guest, 108 vendors, 12-16 musicians and 30 volunteers.

The Grover Beach City Council directed staff back to the drawing board with proposed ideas for an ordinance that redefines a special event and the process required to conduct one. The ordinance would also address ongoing complaints about vagrancy at Ramona Garden Park where the People’s Kitchen provides a daily meal to homeless people.

The city has received complaints that some of the people stay at the park after the meal and engage in “perceived illegal activities.”

Pismo Beach’s first parklet will stay and more could be on the way. The city council unanimously approved making the pilot mini park a done deal at least for several more months.

Last March, city staff installed a beach themed space with palm trees and surfboard décor as well as benches, tables, a checkerboard tabletop and a planter filled with flowers on the corner of Cypress and Hinds in a former curbside parking space in front of Esquire News.

The City of Grover Beach has a new Police Chief selected from within the department’s ranks. The city council approved a contract with Commander John Peters who will take the lead position on June 1. Peters replaces Jim Copsey who officially retired at the end of 2014, but remained as interim chief until a replacement was found.

At the end of most lunch periods at local elementary schools, cafeteria trashcans were often filled to capacity with serving trays that were used for about 20 minutes and later carted off to a landfill on garbage day.

Things have changed for the greener in the Lucia Mar Unified School District. Elementary school cafeteria lunches are no longer served on expanded polystyrene food containers, commonly known by the Dow Chemical trademark name Styrofoam or simply foam.

A group of students are making currents in the energy sector as part of a career pathway program at Arroyo Grande High School.

The first year of the PG&E Energy Academy is coming to a close and students recently demonstrated some of the projects they created in the hands-on learning environment focusing on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math).

The Energy Academy, a three-year program during grades 10-12 was launched last fall and was open to 30 students half of which are required to be considered at-risk.

z a VIV_0642-XLThe Lucia Mar Unified School District Board of Trustees held multiple meetings to garner feedback from school district stakeholders about what qualities they would like to see in their new superintendent.

Teachers, staff, parents, union reps, students and community members were given an opportunity to help create the personal and professional ideal for the district’s top administrator.

Digging for clams was once a thriving tourist attraction as well as a business opportunity in Pismo Beach but declining populations led to an end to the popular activity. According to Cal Poly professor Dr. Lisa Needles, the last legal-sized clam in the area was taken in 1993.

The Pismo Beach City Council is voted to dole out $15,000 clams to help bring back the mollusk population. The money will support a University of Southern California (USC) Sea Grant proposal to study the impact of pollutants on the development and health of Pismo clams.

The grant total is $90,000, with a two-to-one, $45,000, fund matching requirement. Cal Poly committed to approximately $30,000.

The Pismo Beach City Council tackled long identified parking problems in the area surrounding Dinosaur Caves Park in Shell Beach.

Following Traffic Safety Committee (TSC) recommendations, the council considered allocating about $384,000 from park development funds to construct a parking lot at the entrance to Dinosaur Caves Park, part of the park master plan, as well as paving and striping of perpendicular parking on the south side of Cliff Avenue, which would include drought-tolerant landscaped medians.

The public got a behind the scenes look at the newly remodeled and upgraded Arroyo Grande Police Department during a recent open house attended by dignitaries, law enforcement personnel and community members.

6A-JhxXtW0ymS3bMZ99QU33RjVxifOwGGgmwCEPIbMQ“This is a once and done way that you get to go into the police department and go out on your own,” joked Chief Steven Annibali during ribbon cutting ceremonies that were followed by demonstrations and tours of the facility.

Renovations added 1,000 square feet to the existing 7,700 square foot building that now boasts state-of-the-art security design that includes 32 new on sight cameras and card-access control throughout the facility.

Also on the list of upgrades are detective workspaces, interview rooms, increased evidence storage space, an area for secure computer equipment and electrical upgrades along with a new equipment room, break room, expanded locker rooms and a unisex bathroom that meets ADA requirements.

The Grover Beach City Council discussed the status of a project that would give new life to the rough road on Oak Park Boulevard.

The project is designed to complete rehabilitation of the street from Grand Avenue up to the northern city limits. The budget amount is $1.6 million, the majority of which is federal funding.

The project is not funded by the city’s voter approved $48 million bond street rehabilitation project.

IMG_9720An old fashioned hardware store that has been a fixture in downtown Pismo Beach is shutting its doors after serving the community for more that three decades.

Pismo Beach Hardware, located at 930 Price Street, is set to close August 15.

Despite the U.S. Supreme Court June 26 ruling guaranteeing the right of all same-sex couples to marry, some church organizations and governments across the nation continue to debate the decision.

Following that ruling, one local church’s marquee sign was changed to read “Marriage equality—at last love wins.”

The United Church of Christ, with a congregation in San Luis Obispo, has long embraced gay rights. In 1971, they were the first Christian denomination to ordain an openly gay minister.

More than 60 city officials, former fire chiefs, law enforcement personnel, dignitaries and community members attending a ceremony celebrating the fifth anniversary of the Five Cites Fire Authority.

“We are here to celebrate a successful story of community collaboration,” Chief Steve Lieberman told attendees. “It has resulted in a higher level of service provided to our friends, neighbors, families, businesses and visitors. In just five short years this organizations has adapted to changing economic conditions, a steadily increasing volume of 9-1-1 response calls, and all the while has done so with a commitment to our community at a high level of professionalism.”

IMG_4258July is National Park and Recreation month, and one local service club wants to make sure that children with differing abilities can enjoy the activities and fun a park can offer.

The Kiwanis Club of Arroyo Grande Valley is set to launch a campaign to raise funds for the purchase and installation of new inclusive play equipment at Elm Street Park that would be accessible to all children including those with special needs and disabilities.

The Grover Beach City Council approved an increase in fees to provide fire and emergency medical aid dispatch services to two neighboring communities.

Fire services for the Cities of Grover Beach and Arroyo Grande and the Oceano Community Services District (OCSD) were consolidated in June of 2010 with the creation of the Five Cities Fire Authority (FCFA). Grover Beach runs dispatch services for the entire Five Cities Fire Authority coverage area.

Water is on the minds of nearly everybody living in California. Locally, an excess supply of water could be available if needed from a neighboring jurisdiction.
The cities of Pismo Beach, Grover Beach and Arroyo Grande city councils each approved a one-time time extension in a contract between the San Luis Obispo County Flood Control and Water Conservation District (Zone 3).  The zone also includes the City of Pismo Beach, County Service Area 12 (CSA-12), which is Avila, and the Oceano Community Services District (OCSD).

Area liquor stores could be in for a shot of competition of the big box kind. The Arroyo Grande City Council recently approved a conditional use permit for the sell of hard liquor at Walmart.

Because the Five Cities Center, where Walmart is located, is part of a prior planned development, city council approval was required.

For the past decade beer and wine have been sold at the store, and according to attorney Lisa Kolieb representing Walmart, there has never been any disciplinary action at the location from the department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.

Lucia Mar Unified School District officially hired a new superintendent. Last week the board of trustees approved a four-year contract with Dr. Raynee Daley.

Daley is no stranger to the district having served as the Deputy Superintendent, Chief Business Official for Lucia Mar for the past four years.

After a little more than a week on the job, the City of Arroyo Grande recently held a “meet and greet” to welcome the new city manager. Community members, business owners and city officials from neighboring municipalities attended the informal gathering for Dianne Thompson.

Most recently, Thompson was the interim city manager in the Marin County town of Ross for several months. Prior to that she served as city manager for Cotati in Sonoma County for almost nine years. She also served as the city architect for the City of Santa Rosa.

Water availability and conservation measures were the topic of the first ever South County Water Symposium.  About 200 concerned citizens and elected officials attended the event to hear subject specialists discuss the outlook for the resource we all need to survive.

The cities of Arroyo Grande, Pismo Beach, Grover Beach and the Oceano Community Services District were among the agencies represented during the public meeting that also featured vendors offering conservation-minded tips to reduce water usage on a daily basis.

The Five Cities Fire Authority has a new high-tech command vehicle that is the first of its kind in the county.

The department received grants totaling $38,093 awarded by Momentous Insurance Brokerage, Inc. and Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company. The funds went towards the purchase of a custom command vehicle and thermal imaging camera.

The vehicle is 2015 Ford Explorer police interceptor model. Similar to vehicles used by the California Highway Patrol, it is outfitted with emergency lighting and all the necessary communication equipment at the rear of the vehicle to operate at the scene of emergencies including a computer, radio equipment, a tactical whiteboard, LED lighting, and a solar panel to charge the batteries used for the various apparatuses.

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An increase in oil production in Pismo Beach was slated for discussion at two public hearings concerning separate projects by the same company in Price Canyon.

The California Department of Conservation, Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) will hold a public hearing in San Luis Obispo on a request by Freeport McMoRan Oil & Gas to expand the current “aquifer exemption” for the groundwater aquifer in the Arroyo Grande Oil Field to allow injection wells for waste chemicals and oilfield slag.

Freeport McMoRan Oil & Gas is also looking for approval to increase crude oil production in the Arroyo Grande Oil Field. That hearing will be held with the San Luis Obispo County Planning Commission.

Forty-one years ago, a teenage girl sat at a table in a local coffee shop in Arroyo Grande and helped convince a boy she was dating to fill out a job application.  He ended up getting a job as a dishwasher; about a month later she got a job as a bus girl.

In 1993, Scott and Cindy Harrigan, who were by then married with four children, purchased that same coffee shop and became the new owners of The Girl’s Restaurant.
Last week, the Harrigan’s closed the doors for the final time to the restaurant that had been open for 42.

Motorists typically using northbound Highway 101 on or off ramps at Brisco Road will have to plan a new route, at least temporarily.

The Arroyo Grande City Council voted unanimously to move forward with plans to close both the northbound on and off ramps at the Brisco Road interchange at Highway 101 as a trial run in hopes of finding the best solution to a traffic flow nightmare that has been a problem since the 90s.

A line of motionless train cars stretching along the tracks from Oceano and into Pismo Beach along Highway 1 has raised some concerns from folks wondering why they are there.

Although the approximately 100 cars have been there for months, Union Pacific Railroad, which owns the cars and operates the tracks, hopes they won’t be there for too much longer.

“We have a limited capacity to store rail cars,” said Union Pacific Corporate Relations and Media Representative Francisco Castillo. “The use of the rail cars is based on use and customer demand, and, at this time, we are not moving that type of product. It just depends on capacity and where there is room to store them. Right now that is the only area that we are able to store those cars.”

It isn’t often that several hundred people get together to have lunch, Bowlsbut it has become a tradition for a cause for many local folks.

About 600 tickets were sold for the 5Cities Homeless Coalition’s 4th Annual Empty Bowl Community Luncheon held last week at St. Patrick’s Church Parish Hall in Arroyo Grande. The event raised about $28,000.

There might be some unusual smelling and tasting water coming from local taps, but county officials assure residents that it is safe to drink.

The drinking water in the Five Cities and surrounding areas may have an earthy taste or odor, but it meets all regulatory requirements and is safe to drink.

The change in taste or odor is due to a recent and temporary increase in blue-green algae, in both Lopez Lake and state water supplies, which will likely continue over the next few weeks.

Students at Ocean View Elementary School have a bounty of herbs and produce added to their curriculum.

The school was the recipient of a farm to school garden filled with a variety of fruits, vegetables and herbs including lettuces, broccoli, artichoke, mint, rosemary, basil and more.

New safety provisions along public access points on bluff tops in Pismo Beach are going to be installed. The City Council approved creating a uniform appearance throughout locations citywide.

About nine years ago the California Joint Powers Insurance Authority provided the city with a risk assessment report of items citywide that should be corrected to help lower risk and liability for injury to the public.

With predicted El Nino winter storms on the horizon, three local cities can reap the cash and conservation benefits through a county rebate program.

The StormRewards Rebate Program is funded through a $300,000 grant from the State Water Resource Control Board and offers rebates of up to $999 for rain-friendly projects in the cities of Arroyo Grande, Nipomo and San Luis Obispo.
Rebates are given to folks who install best management practices on private property. Projects can be as simple as installing a rain garden, dry well, directing roof runoff to landscaped areas or planting trees.

The City of Arroyo Grande recently reached a new agreement to utilize inmate work crews to complete maintenance type jobs within city limits.
On a consent agenda, the city council approved a five-year contract with the California Men’s Colony (CMC) and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDRC) to utilize inmate work crews for unskilled labor within the city.
The city has used the services of CMC work crews for several years with help on several maintenance items such as graffiti removal, litter removal, weed abatement, streambed maintenance, filling sand bags, etc.

After three hours of discussion and public debate, for the second time the San Luis Obispo County Planning Commission continued a meeting to decide the fate of a requested permit extension that would ultimately increase in oil production in Price Canyon. County staff recommended approval of the Phase IV project.

Freeport McMoRan Oil & Gas is asking the county to amend its conditional use permit (CUP) giving the company more time to drill its previously approved oil wells. The current phase was originally permitted in 2005.

This request would extend the current limit for an additional 3 years to install approximately 31 wells that would increase crude oil production at the 1,480-acre Arroyo Grande Oil Field northeast of Pismo Beach from 5,000 to 10,000 barrels a day.

Despite an unexpected  $4.1 million dollar funding loss, the Pismo Beach City Council recently gave staff the green light to move forward with a long-awaited project for improvements along the main road in Shell Beach.

The scope of the proposed project on an 18-block segment of Shell Beach Road between Cliff and Terrace avenues includes upgrades to signage, street tree type and locations, sidewalks, parking and building massing reconstructing the roadway.

Vagrancy-related issues continue to increase in the City of Grover Beach despite efforts by city officials and law enforcement. Business owners say the problem is not slowing down.

Complaints include aggressive animals, public intoxication, drug use, fights and altercations, and panhandling.

Within the last year, the city adopted both an aggressive panhandling and aggressive dog ordinance specifically as tools to help deal with the vagrancy problems.

Although Arroyo Grande has consistently met the state mandated water conservation numbers, plans still need to be made for a continued water shortage. The city council recently discussed alternative ways to deal with drought conditions.

“Our conservation has been extremely important,” Community Development Director Teresa McClish told the council. “We are in a severe drought condition now. We would certainly expect to see cyclical drought over the long-term, so we are really trying to focus on permanent savings and sustainable efforts that will keep our water demand and supply in sync over the next several decades.”

IMG_7684Cleanup efforts by Environmental Center of San Luis Obispo County (ECOSLO) brought in a lot of trash from drought stricken Lopez Lake.

A total of 712 pounds of rubbish was collected in addition to 48 pounds of salvageable recyclables. In mid-September during California Coastal Cleanup Day, 773 pounds total of debris was collected at Lopez making for over 1500 pounds collected within two months.

A dedication and ribbon cutting ceremony marked the completion of construction of Central Coast New Tech High School in Nipomo.

The school, built on the Nipomo High School campus, first opened it’s doors in September of 2012 with six teachers and six classrooms. About 100 freshman students made up the initial class. Today the school has 19 teachers, 20 classrooms and a few administrative spaces. About 350 students are in attendance with a maximum capacity of 500.

Pismo Beach is the second city in the county to ban the use of extruded or expanded polystyrene foam food and drink containers, commonly known as Styrofoam. Last week, the City Council voted 5-0 to establish an ordinance putting an end to the product within in city limits.

A Pismo Beach woman is the first resident of the city to receive the Annual Isabel P. Ruiz Humanitarian Award now in its ninth year.

The award was presented to Ingrid Pires at a recent city council meeting in recognition of her work as a Bereavement Manager Wilshire Hospice.

“It seems like double dipping for getting an award for doing work I love so much,” said Pires.

The final step in what will likely determine the fate of medical marijuana in the City of Arroyo Grande is on the horizon. The Planning Commission recently voted 3-2 to recommend the city council ban the cultivation and dispensing of medical marijuana within city limits.

On October 9 of this year, Gov. Jerry Brown signed the Medical Marijuana Regulation & Safety Act, a comprehensive package of bills to establish a regulatory structure for medical marijuana. Cities across the state are scrambling to get policy on the books before the legislation comes down the pipeline.

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The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) filed an appeal against the San Luis Obispo County Planning Commission’s recent approval of Freeport-McMoRan’s plan to drill dozens of new oil wells in the 1,480-acre Arroyo Grande Oil Field in the Price Canyon area northeast of Pismo Beach.

The appeal, filed with the county board of supervisors, says Freeport’s request for an extension on an expired, decade-old plan to drill 31 new wells and increase production could threaten underground water supplies.

The volunteers and community members who have worked tirelessly for the past 13 years to preserve a piece of local history were recognized by the state for their efforts with the Rancho Nipomo Dana Adobe Historic Park.

The Dana Adobe Nipomo Amigos, commonly known as DANA, were the recipients of the Governor’s Award for Historic Preservation for 2015.

The award is the only official preservation award presented by the State of California to recognize outstanding achievements in the field of historic preservation.

Cal Fire Pismo Beach division Fire Captain Rick Howard was recently recognized by the city council for his 27 years of service.

The council commended Howard for his key role in the development of the Pismo Beach Lifeguard Division. In 1994, Howard established the first Jr. Lifeguard program in the county with only 16 participants. Over that 21-year span, more than 2,500 youths have participated in the program.

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